Welcome to a special horror roundtable podcast, featuring Collider’s Perri Nemiroff and Haleigh Foutch along with the filmmakers behind The Endless. The hit indie horror follows two brothers back to the cult they escaped as kids, where they find much more sinister forces than they bargained for.
With The Endless arriving on Blu-ray this week, we recently hosted filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead — who shot, wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in the film — to chat about a bit about creating The Endless, horror cinema in 2018, discussions surrounding “elevated horror,” and how evolving trends in the industry — from streaming to MoviePass — are changing the game for indie filmmakers. Listen to the full interview via the embed below and read some of the highlight quotes underneath.
Known for their trio of critically acclaimed indie horrors, Resolution, Spring and The Endless, Benson and Moorhead talked about fielding offers for bigger studio projects and why they haven’t regretted any of the ones they passed on.
“We’ve actually been presented with that pretty often and we continue to be,” said Moorhead. We don’t think we’re the only stories that ever need to be told, you know? But honestly, the ones that we passed on, when they go and get made and we watch them, there is never any regret. It’s either as bad as we thought it was going to be or it’s way better than we think we made have made it. So we have no sadness about ever saying no to the preexisting projects.”
What specifically were they glad they passed on? Well, we kept the chat positive, but one movie they singled out was Stephen King’s IT, which they praised for turning out better than anything they would have done.
“I don’t know if we ever would have gotten it, but we were sent IT, and it was pretty casual,” Benson recalled.
“That doesn’t mean they were offering us the project, but if we made a bid for it, maybe. That kind of thing,” said Moorhead.
Benson continued, “We took a look at it and didn’t think it was bad but didn’t think this is the type of thing we do and then you see the finished movie and you see the type of thing the Muschiettis did with it and it’s amazing. We don’t have that sensibility.”
“They just did it way better than we would have,” Moorhead agreed. “We would have done something else and it’s not something the audience wanted, it’s not something we would have wanted, but we would have tried. It just would have been all wrong.”
But that doesn’t mean the duo won’t make a Stephen King movie at some point. The pair are huge fans of the author, and already have a script for an adaptation inspired by his short story The Death of John Hamilton. “There’s a short story that we’d like to make about the last days of John Dillinger, that a script exists for and all that it’s just one of those things that it requires money, therefor it requires talent, so it’s a long process,” Said Moorhead. “We’d love to take our own stab at The Dark Tower series, that would be amazing,” he continued. “And I don’t know if anyone’s working on this, and I haven’t read it in a long time, so I’m not even sure if we’d still want to, but Needful Things would be cool.”
Benson agreed and added, “We could do a good job with The Tommyknockers,” and Moorhead agreed, “Yeah, The Tommyknockers, we’d slay it. And that one has weird political resonance nowadays too.” The duo also singled King’s Desperation as an inspiration for their approach to evil forces in The Endless.
The duo also had some interesting thoughts on a few trending topics in the entertainment industry at the moment. Speaking about the idea of “elevated horror,” Moorhead explained his distaste for the term and why it sticks around.
“As soon as we heard the phrase elevated genre or elevated horror it was like, “Oh man may we never touch that poison.” It’s just the difference between good movies and bad movies. There’s good horror and bad horror. I’d rather watch bad horror than bad drama because at least one tries to be interesting, but you see what I’m saying. I do understand that there’s. Away that we are trying to talk about movies like The Witch that is fundamentally different than the sixth franchise slasher form the 80s that was basically just made for fun and everybody on set was probably on cocaine and having a great time. Those are fundamentally different movies in approach and so that’s what people are trying to talk about, but the problem is we keep on coming up with these stupid terms that put one over the other rather than just trying to differentiate between them, rather than giving them qualitative assessments. I think that’s the problem. I enjoy some silly movies just as much as I enjoy The Witch, and I don’t think one’s better than the other. I’m not a complete relativist, I do believe in bad movies. They totally exist.”